The Best Flights to View the 2024 Solar Eclipse From the Sky

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April 8 is shaping up to be a busy day for US airlines, as travelers chase the total solar eclipse sweeping across the nation from Texas to Maine—a rare event that won’t be visible from the contiguous US again until 2044.

While many eclipse-chasers are booking up hotels and Airbnbs located along the path of totality, some travelers are taking to the skies in order to get as close to the celestial event as humanly possible.

Ideally, these eclipse flights will allow for prime viewing of the moon passing in front of the sun, since the atmosphere tends to be clearer above the clouds. But with the eclipse only lasting between one to four minutes, there are "many challenges with trying to time being on a commercial airplane during an eclipse flight,” airline industry analyst Mike Arnot tells Condé Nast Traveler.

For one, it can be difficult to know which side of the plane will have the best view of the eclipse, which depends on the plane's exact flight path. And of course, there's always the risk that weather could cause route changes or delays. In fact, there's been so much hype around the eclipse that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has even issued a domestic notice in recent days warning of “possible impacts to air traffic and airports along the eclipse path” from April 7 to 10. Aircraft should be ready for potential holdings and rerouting, as well as delays due to higher traffic volumes, the FAA says, noting that airports in the greater Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Memphis areas are the most likely to see flight disruptions.

These potential obstacles haven't stopped airlines from touting their eclipse flights, though. Below, we've rounded up the best ways to view the eclipse from the sky, including special flights specifically scheduled to chase the eclipse, as well as regularly scheduled flights that will likely overlap with the path of totality.

Several airlines have announced special flight routes that will trace the eclipse's path of totality.

Ring of Fire

Several airlines have announced special flight routes that will trace the eclipse's path of totality.
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Delta Air Lines

The Atlanta-based carrier has scheduled two special flights specifically to chase the eclipse path. First flight 1218, which will depart at 12:15 p.m. from Austin and land in Detroit at 4:20 p.m. on an Airbus A220-300, sold out within 24 hours, so Delta added flight 1010 from Dallas Fort Worth, which will leave at 12:30 p.m. also landing in Detroit at the same time aboard a bigger Airbus A321neo.

Delta also says that five of its regularly scheduled flights will also have “prime eclipse-viewing opportunity,” citing flight 5699 from Detroit to New York’s Westchester at 2:59 p.m local time on a ERJ-175, flight 924 from Los Angeles to Dallas Fort Worth at 8:40 a.m. on an A320, flight 2869 from Los Angeles to San Antonio at 9 a.m. on an A319, flight 1001 from Salt Lake City to San Antonio at 10:08 a.m. on an A220-300, and flight 1683 from Salt Lake City to Austin at 9:55 a.m on an A320.

United Airlines

United Airlines has 11 flights scheduled within the pathway—and on select flights, passengers will receive complimentary eclipse glasses. Six of those flights will depart from Chicago O’Hare: flight 5693 to Little Rock at 12:45 p.m., flight 490 to Houston at 12:47 p.m., flight 455 to Dallas at 12:49 p.m., flight 247 to Toronto at 1:00 p.m., flight 2440 to New York’s LaGuardia at 1:00 p.m., and flight 2187 to Washington Dulles at 1:20 p.m.

The other five leave from Houston, with flight 1438 heading to San José del Cabo at 11:55 a.m., flight 6128 to Columbus at 12 noon, flight 6109 to Detroit at 12:05 p.m.; flight 1318 to Cincinnati at 12:23 p.m., and flight 1687 to Indianapolis at 12:25 p.m.

JetBlue

While the New York City-based air company warns that the many factors from weather to air traffic control guidance “may route flights traveling along that corridor out of the eclipse [zone],” the carrier has identified seven flights currently scheduled to travel within the totality path.

Two flights depart from Austin: flight 694 to New York City’s JFK airport departing at 10:37 a.m. and flight 1138 heading to Boston leaving at 11:44 p.m. Boston also has a pair of departures, flight 1565 to San Antonio at 12:05 p.m. and flight 215 to Dallas Fort Worth leaving at 2:53 p.m. Also on the list: flight 1881 from JFK to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental at 1:45 p.m., flight 1826 from San Antonio to JFK at 1:01 p.m., and Houston to Boston, leaving at 1:45 p.m.

Southwest Airlines

Over at Southwest, the network's schedule planners have been busy studying projections of the shadows of the eclipse (the umbra and penumbra), to figure out the flights that will have “the greatest likelihood of offering customers on onboard the best view,” a spokesperson tells Traveler.

The top three are flight 1252 from Dallas’ Love Field to Pittsburgh at 12:45 p.m., flight 1721 leaving Austin for Indianapolis at 12:50 p.m., and flight 1910, departing St. Louis for Houston’s Hobby at 1:20 p.m.

Additionally, the airline says five Southwest flights “may also cross the path of totality during their scheduled operating time.” Those include flight 955 from Dallas’ Love Field for Chicago’s Midway at 12:50 p.m., flight 506 departing Milwaukee for Dallas’ Love Field at 1:05 p.m., flight 1734 from Houston’s Hobby for Indianapolis at 1:35 p.m., flight 1682 from Chicago’s Midway for Austin at 1:30 p.m., and flight 3108 taking off from Nashville Dallas’ Love Field at 1:40 p.m.

Alaska Airlines

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines says that two of its flights from San Diego are the best for the April 8 eclipse viewing: flight 390 to Boston departing at 8:10 a.m. and flight 322 to Washington Dulles, leaving at 8:05 a.m.

“As long as skies are clear, our guests will have some of the best seats to the solar eclipse on April 8 while 30,000 feet in the air,” Alaska's vice president of revenue management and network planning Kirsten Amrine said in a statement shared with Traveler.

JSX

Semi-private carrier JSX will be hosting a special two-hour flight through the totality path led by former NASA astronaut and current JSX pilot Bill Gregory, who has logged 400 hours in space. “With Dallas taking claim as the biggest city in the path of totality, we are thrilled to make this ultra premium and rare viewing opportunity a reality via JSX,” CEO Alex Wilcox said in a statement.

The two-hour flight 4824 will fly round trip from the company’s private hangar at Dallas’ Love Field starting at 1 p.m. local time. Every passenger will have a window seat, and will also receive eclipse viewing glasses and themed cocktails.

Chartered flights

With so many factors at play for commercial flights, aviation analyst Arnot says that the best bet for those who live within the eclipse path is to charter a Cessna 172 with a pilot. Most flight schools offer “discovery flights"—short private trips with a certified pilot instructor—that you could potentially time with the April 8 eclipse.

That said, smaller planes typically fly below the weather, scrapping the advantage of getting above poor conditions. But even if there is cloud cover, the control of a chartered fight might still provide the most bespoke experience, according to Arnot.

Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler